Is Associating Your Name with Volkswagen a Bad Idea Now?

Volkswagen was once the epitome of German engineering. It was never the best German car brand, but it was the best of the accessible ones, which meant it could reach a large part of the audience.
Volkswagen Android connectivity ads 1 photo
Photo: Screenshot from YouTube
Buying a Mercedes-Benz or a BMW is something only a select few can think of, but a Golf or a Jetta are much more affordable propositions that still deliver the coveted Teutonic quality. That's why Volkswagen was enjoying a very positive image all over the world.

All that changed last fall when the Dieselgate scandal broke out. Unless you've been living under a rock with no WiFi signal, then you probably already know everything there is to know about that affair. In short, Volkswagen was caught knowingly lying to everybody about the emissions of some of its diesel engines, and suffered a huge image blow that will follow the Wolfsburg-based company for years to come.

Given all this, Volkswagen is now trying to turn its image around by focusing less on technology and more on emotion. But when the object of your ads is technology itself, there's no way left around it. Still, if emotional is off the table, then at least you're left with funny, and that's exactly what Volkswagen tried to do here.

The US Volkswagen branch released a series of clips showcasing the smartphone connectivity options present in modern VW cars. While there's nothing particularly spectacular to talk about, these days you have to make sure that people know your cars are compatible with man's new best friend: his smartphone. So Volkswagen enlisted the help of two actors, Adam Scott (of Parks and Recreation fame) and Michael Pena (he featured in several blockbuster movies, including The Martian).

We won't discuss the whole series of ads (we'll just post three of them down here and let you explore the rest on YouTube), but we were wondering whether having your name and face associated with Volkswagen could be detrimental at this point. After all, you saw what happened with Porsche and Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova earlier today. That thing should go both ways: assuming you've already filmed a commercial for a brand, if that company turns out to be a cheat, aren't you entitled to ask that the spot in which you feature to be taken off the air?

That isn't the case here, and we doubt filmmakers will judge actors based on the brands they worked for rather than their actual performances in front of the camera, but still, it does say something about you. You're basically endorsing a company and everything that comes with it. Defeat devices included. What do you think about this? Or, better yet, if you were an actor and VW approached you for an ad, what would your answer be?

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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